BERLIN (Reuters) - German emergency services evacuated the visa section of the United States consulate in Berlin on Thursday after an employee felt difficulty breathing when opening a passport handed to her by a visitor, police said.
The visitor was believed to be an Albanian man who said he was applying for a U.S. visa, said police, adding that workers at the consulate later returned to their posts.
The alarm come amid attacks on U.S. embassy and consulate buildings across the Middle East.
Television footage showed investigators in chemical protection suits and masks at the Berlin consulate, which is in the southwest of the city, separate from the main embassy building in central Berlin.
"Shortly before 11 this morning a man came to the consulate and handed over his passport, saying he wanted a visa," Berlin police spokesman Stefan Redlich said.
"When the employee opened the passport she experienced breathing difficulties and a metallic taste in her mouth ... At the moment investigators are checking whether there was a suspicious substance."
A spokesman for the Berlin fire service said three women employees had received treatment for breathing difficulties.
Demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt on Thursday in protest over a film they consider blasphemous to Islam, and American warships headed to Libya after the death of the U.S. ambassador there in related violence earlier in the week.
Islamist gunmen had staged a military-style assault on the U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi, eastern Libya. The U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault, carried out with guns, mortars and grenades.
Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Edited by Stephen Brown and Pravin Char